I have unattended-upgrades installed on several servers, some version 12, some 14. I would like to enable MailOnlyOnError for them but would still like to receive email notices when an update requires reboot.

Will I still receive "reboot required" notices with MailOnlyOnError enabled?


  • Good question. I have a server with unnattended-upgrades and MailOnlyOnError and my impression is that unfortunately I don't get any info mails if a reboot is required. Would be nice to know if there is an "official" way to make this work. – azimut Oct 24 '14 at 10:39

Here is a solution based on an answer in this discussion. The trick is that the request for a reboot is indicated by the presence of the file /var/run/reboot-required.

Create a file /usr/local/sbin/email_update_required with the content

if [ -f /var/run/reboot-required ]; then
    echo "A reboot is required following updates to server `hostname`" | mail -s "Reboot Required" <mail-address>

Adjust <mail-address> (for example to root or your personal email address). Check the permissions and make the file executable.

Put the following line into your root crontab (sudo crontab -e)

00 08 * * * /usr/local/sbin/email_update_required

(It runs the email_update_required script every day at 8 o’clock, adjust as needed.)

I've applied the above method to a Ubuntu 14.04 server with unattended-upgrades and MailOnlyOnError true", and it works.

Still, it would be nice to have a more "official" Ubuntu or unattended-upgrades way to get those notification mails. A switch similar to MailOnlyOnError would be great.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks! The discussion you linked to also points to this one which pointed me at using nagios to monitor /var/run/reboot. That'll work for us. – Whatsisname Oct 27 '14 at 15:47
  • Ah, wasn't aware of that other discussion. Thanks. – azimut Oct 27 '14 at 15:49
  • When posting this answer, I had applied the same to a server with unattended updates. In the last unatteded update, linux-image-3.13.0-39-generic was installed. And I got the first reboot-required message, so it works! – azimut Oct 29 '14 at 7:52

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